25-year-old Jade Sylvester, of England, has unusual eating habits. In addition to eating 3 square meals a day, Sylvester also consumes one roll of toilet paper per day.
“I started craving toilet roll. I still don’t know why,” Sylvester told UK's Liconshire Echo.
“I like the dryness. My family tell me it isn’t very good for me — but I can’t help it,” Sylvester said.
Sylvester is one of millions of people around the world who suffer from an eating disorder called pica.
Pica causes people to eat large amounts of objects and substances that are not fit for human consumption, such as dirt, clay, ice, toothpaste, hair, feces, wood, paper, glass, stones, and mucus, etc.
Pica affects mainly women and developmentally delayed children of lower socioeconomic status. Pica particularly affects pregnant women and autistic children.
SIGNS and SYMPTOMS
Signs and symptoms vary depending upon the type of object or non-nutritious objects and substances that are consumed. Sufferers may complain of nausea, constipation and abdominal pain caused by intestinal obstruction. The unusual cravings pattern must last a month to be diagnosed as pica.
Doctors believe pica is caused by poor nutrition (malnutrition) which leads to mineral deficiency and anemia. The substance eaten by the patient usually contains the mineral that the person is deficient in. For example, black women in the U.S. and Kenya tend to eat clay which contains iron and magnesium.
Treatment varies based on the type of objects or substance that is consumed and whether there are any complications, such as lead poisoning. Behavioral modification and positive reinforcement are included in the patient's treatment plan.
More Info On the Web
Pregnancy and Pica - Americanpregnancy.org
Pica - Kidshealth.org
Pica (Eating Disorder) - WebMD
Pica - MedLine Plus
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